Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

One of my favorite things about Deke is his focus, and by that I mean he gets an idea in his brain and won't let go until he's figured it out. I have a feeling that's what happened the first time he started doing Op Art experiments with Adobe Creative Suite. He focused in on each style, using Photoshop (as in Deke's Techniques 189, known temporarily as Deke's Techniques 105: "Op Art Experiment 1a: Inflated Checkers in Photoshop) or Illustrator as needed. Eventually, he ended up with today's Illustrator technique: an Op Art inspired pattern of undulating lines and hypnotic diamonds. Ironically, as much as it represents the manifestation of Deke's mental focus, it could actually mess with your literal ability to focus your eyes.

But the visual effect is only temporary (I hope). The increase in your powers with Illustrator, however, will be permanent (I also hope). Starting with two sets of curly lines, plus an itinerant diamond shape, Deke duplicates, reflects, joins, blends, and eventually creates a pattern that yields this result. You can then fill an entire shape with your pattern and wow your friends and colleagues with your ability to create perfectly aligned visual mayhem. (You can probably use it to bend them to your will, as well.) 

Along the way, you'll become familiar with these key Illustrator tools, commands, and idiosyncrasies:  Read more » 

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Deke Queue for You: Courses (and Freebies) Collected

This week,, home of what I now know to be over 500 hours of Deke-on-Video-Training, announced they have added the ability to share "playlists." This means, if you are a member of, you can round up a bunch of courses into one handy list, and then share that list (via a link, email, or social media) with whomever you wish. 

For instance, in honor of the impending arrival of the final installment in the Photoshop CS6 series, also known as Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Mastery, I have added the first three installments of Deke's series into a Photoshop CS6 One-on-One playlist so that members of can make sure they're up to date on the series before the finale arrives. Perfect for your weekend Photoshop enrichment. (And, hey, if you scheduled things cleverly, you could probably get through this list in a free week trial membership from You know, if you didn't sleep, pay attention to your children, or work too hard at your regular job for a week.) members can click on this image and be taken to a page where they can add my list to your collection.

Read on to see how to add courses to your own playlists, get a free trial at, and get my secret for on how to watch a completely free "playlist" of dekeVideos from the library. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 199: Creating a Pattern of Size-Changing Circles in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 199: Creating a Pattern of Size-Changing Circles in Illustrator

Hello, fellow gangsters. This week is remarkable is three regards: First, I'm actually writing my own Deke's Techniques post. (Colleen wrote the last two. But in all fairness, I helped out.) Second, I just today finished recording the last movie in the final course of my four-part Photoshop video opus for, which will be titled Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Mastery. (Lynda doesn't like us making promises, so I can't assure you that it's coming out any time soon. But it is.) And third, in this week's episode of Deke's Techniques, we're back in Illustrator, which I've really been grooving on lately.

I know, you photographers hate it when I visit Illustrator. But in case you haven't received the memo, I'm a graphic artist and I really like to draw. (Did I mention that photographers are sissies because all they do is point and shoot a camera? No I didn't. Which is a good thing because that would've seriously pissed off a lot of people.)

Oh, man, no wonder I don't write more of these things. I'm a liability to myself.

Anywhom, this week, I show you how to create a free-form pattern of size- and color-changing circles inside Illustrator. Which I do by blending between groups, and then grouping those blends, and then blending between those blended groups. Yes, you have to reformat your brain to follow along.

Fortunately, the only thing you have to "draw" is a circle, create a file that measures 612 by 420 points, then make a 43.5-point circle centered at a coordinate location of X: 44, Y: 42. Yowsa, I love this full-on nerd shit.

After that, well, it's all in the video. Spoiler alert: Here's the final size- and color-changing circle pattern, as created in Adobe Illustrator:

The amazing size- and color-changing circle pattern in Adobe Illustrator

And it's all from a single circle! You can draw a circle, right? Well then quit screwing off with your cameras and join in. After all, when you're done, you'll have a piece of art that's worthy of printing on a shower curtain. Try doing that with your high-resolution Ansel Adams homage. Read more » 

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Parade of Hearts: A Photoshop Layer Effect Love Story

The other day when I was thinking about ways to not acknowledge Valentine's Day, I took a heart-shaped path created in Adobe Illustrator and started applying a bunch Photoshop layer effects to it---effects I basically lifted four Deke's Techniques (and one from our friend-in-Photoshop, Nigel French)---all of which were originally designed as text effects.  

But it had occurred to me that any layer effects you pile onto text in Photoshop can be just as easily applied to a shape. For the most part, I just took the instructions from Nigel and Deke, inserted the heart-shaped path we drew in Illustrator a few weeks ago into a new shape layer, and applied the layer effects to my shape instead of text. Here are the results: 

Although reminiscent of sitting around making valentines with doilies, glitter, and glue in my youth, this was much more fun and required much less clean up. Also, my mom never let me use flames.

And any shape will do, so if you want to turn your shamrocks to gold, your easter eggs to chocolate, or set a decidedly unsuspecting snowflake on fire, you're set for every holiday as long as you can create (or find) a path shape to use. 

Read on to see my notes and get links to the video instructions I used. Note, all but one of these techniques are documented in movies that are actually unlocked for everyone at, (and if you need a free trial week for the fire project, you can sign up for one one at Read more » 

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Which Are the Best of Deke's Techniques? Colleen's Exalted Opinion (Plus Your Votes)

My beloved dekeOmaniacs: Of late, I have been asked to weigh in on my favorite of the almost-200 episodes of Deke's Techniques. Now, I pride myself on a) being an excellent judge of useful information, b) having mad curation skills, and c) being notoriously defensive of my own damn opinion. (Yes, I'm aware that these all might be the same thing.) 

But Deke has been asked to speak at a couple of very cool conferences this Spring (the Print and ePub Conference and Adobe MAX), and he's been specifically requested to share the awesome that is Deke's Techniques. So it has come to light that we might want to identify those techniques that would best benefit from a live performance thereof. Thus I bring you: 

What follows are links to my favorite episodes based on the criteria of ingenuity, usefulness, and visual appeal (plus the reality-TV-esque challenge of Deke attempting to explain them in person within his given time limit).

But let's face it, most of you are way further entrenched in day-to-day application of your Photoshop and Illustrator skills. (I, meanwhile, get paid mostly to apply my scathing wit, wordsmithery, curation skillz, and barely suppressed ego.) 

And please, for the love of awesomeness, share your favorites in the comments. Note: You can see the entire collection of Deke's Techniques at, and if your'e not a member you can get a free trial at

To get you started, here are my nominees and reasons for nominating them: Read more » 

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